I rejoice, because I am done.
Sunday, October 31, I ran my first full marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon.
The Friday before I picked up my race-packet and proceeded to carb load. All week long I’d think about the race and get a belly full of nerves. The night before I slept terribly… it was like Christmas Eve, and I tend to sleep terribly the night before anything big or exciting. I woke up at 5 am to eat my oatmeal and coffee, and hop on the Metro.
I underestimated the long metro ride, and the fact that they had the start line a mile away from where we got out. It was 7:45 by the time I got there, and I had to wait in a long porta potty line, and missed the start. This meant I was not lined up in the runners equivalent to my pace.
There was a sea of slow runners and walkers to work through for the first several miles. I was pushing out 9 minute miles the first several miles, so that meant I already knew that I was not going to be qualifying for Boston today. It was like a fartlek: run slow behind a group then speed up the moment a window opens. I spent a lot of valuable energy dodging and weaving through people going slower than me.
Mile 13 found me wondering if I was even going to clear 4 hours (my ultimate goal) and waiting in a long line of women to use the bathroom. Surprisingly, I was battling a severe case of nerves for the first 18 miles. It would just rise and billow, and I couldn’t seem to control my nerves. I think that my expectations of an awesome race were so high, and I’d dreamt of this moment for 18 months… I just couldn’t shake them.
Finally at mile 18, I came up on my family… Nate, my mom, and the 3 kids had come to cheer and support me.
moments before I had just run into an old friend, and we both smiled as we ran past.
My smile is hiding that my hips were hurting, I had a pulled groin muscle, and my ankles and arches were feeling really sore. I had already been to the orthopedist about my hips, and it turns out my hips are pointier than normal and rub on my ITBand.
Then I approached 20 miles. Physically, I was in a lot of pain. Psychologically I was thinking, “I will Never Do this again.” I couldn’t fathom that I still had 6 miles to go… another hour of feeling like one long labor contraction.
The last 2 miles I was basically moving at a shuffle. I did stop to walk a few times, and starting to run again was always excruciating… Mile 25 I was walking when a man ran past and yelled, “you can do it! Finish strong!” and that was all I needed. I ran the last bit.. and the MCM is cruel that they have one final last steep hill going UP into the finish. The MCM motto is “Earned, Never Given.” and they mean it.
My Garmin time was 4:19:57. My official chip time was 4:29:19.
Things I’ve learned:
Get there EARLY and line up aggressively.
Don’t stop to use the bathroom.
Don’t cheat on your training. (I skipped or shortened a few runs.)
Cross train… get other muscles involved.
Get a GPS Garmin, the foot pod ones are worthless.
Race MORE races… toe the line a few times so that my nerves aren’t out of control.
Will I do a full marathon again? Up until late Monday night, the answer was No Way Jose. That. Was. Brutal. The last couple days? I’m disappointed I didn’t get my sub-four hours I worked hard for, and should have had. I wonder if I changed my things learned list, and maybe sought out a smaller, less crowded marathon I could get that time I desperately wanted.
Overall, I’m a little disappointed over my time. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. But I’m incredibly proud of my accomplishment, and now only have something I can improve on and build on. I do think that ultimately half-marathons are more my distance.